Over at Uproxx, Dustin Rowles recently asked (and answered) the question: Is The X-Files‘ episode ‘Home‘ the most terrifying episode of television of all time? Yes. It is. Hot damn. He also pointed out that it’s available on Netflix Instant. For free. For watching any time you please, preferably late at night, alone, at Halloweenish time. Mwa ha ha. MWA HA HA HAAAA.
*lightning flash, thunder clap*
Even though I’d written about ‘Home’ recently (and how I STILL can’t listen to that damn ‘Wonderful, Wonderful’ song without curling into the fetal position), it’s been years since I actually watched it. Probably at least a decade. I think I rented it at Blockbuster, for christ’s sake.
So last night, I decided to see if it really was as terrifying as I remembered, or if — like going back to watch an old Twilight Zone episode that scared the bejesus out of you as a child and finding it to be utterly ridiculous — it didn’t really hold up over the years.
Holy SHITBALLS, you guys.
Don’t ever question us again, missy.
I give The X-Files a lot of shit, I admit, for failing to really reward fans with any real payoff or resolution, but ‘Home’ happened before the show went off the rails, when our loyalty was more than deserved. It was the second episode of the fourth season, and my God, it’s an incredible hour of television, and the perfect example of how groundbreaking The X-Files really was. It’s a fully realized horror film condensed into 44 minutes, and they make every minute count. The writing, the pacing, the just-enough-to-freak-your-shit-out glimpses of horror and gore and OH MY GOD THE SCENE WITH THE SHERIFF AND HIS WIFE AND THE MATTRESS AND OVERALL FUCKED-UP-ED-NESS…I cannot believe this aired on network television. In 1996.
Did I leave the iron on? Or any deformed fetuses in a cornfield? Hmm.
Unlike, say, True Blood or American Horror Story, there is no camp, no real humor. There’s some shipper-friendly banter (AND SMOLDERING) between Mulder and Scully, of course, but other than that it’s relentlessly bleak. Shit just keeps getting darker and worse than what you previously thought was happening. (And considering the opening scene involves a newborn baby getting buried alive, the fact that it “gets worse” is really saying something.) And unlike The Walking Dead (or other classic X-Files episodes), there is nothing supernatural or fictional at work. No aliens or monsters or zombies or vampires. Just fucked-up goddamn shit, from start to finish.
Needless to say, I loved every single awful second of it, and HIGHLY recommend y’all watch it tonight after the trick-or-treaters have left, with the lights turned down and a throw pillow on your lap to hide behind.
Now everybody! Sing it with me: